Indian Religions

Indian ReligionsIndian Religions is an anthology of written and oral texts by spiritual teachers from South Asia. The period covered is some 3500 years – from the period of the Rig Veda to the 1980s. Extracts from the works of about a hundred mystics are included. All the major traditions (Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, Sufi, Sikh), as well as heterodox and transgressive traditions, are represented. While scholarly in its presentation and based on the most up-to-date literature, the book is clearly written and intended to be accessible to students as well as general readers.


Publisher’s description

Indian Religions is an expansive collection of the key written and oral texts by spiritual teachers from South Asia, covering 3,500 years and all the major traditions-Buddhism, Jainism, Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, and new Indian religions.

The volume provides clear translations of extracts from original documents and texts from most of the well-known and many of the lesser-known individuals and traditions. Overlapping parts and sections each comprise a historically and thematically defined stage of a tradition. The reader is thus able to follow the chronological development of the various traditions without isolating them from one another. Each section includes a context-setting introduction which provides historical, cultural, and textual background. A general introduction lays the foundations for the text’s theoretical framework and approach.

Indian Religions is the most complete and best-organized anthology of Indian religious/spiritual texts published to date. It serves as an introduction to the history of religions in South Asia, and will appeal to readers interested in India and Eastern religions as well as students of religion and South Asian culture.



The volume is both well researched and organized. Heehs has structured the book lucidly, first outlining the major belief systems originating in the subcontinent – Vedic, Vedantic, Jainism, Vedantic, Jainism, Theravada Buddhism, Samkhya and Yoga – in the section titled “Foundations”. Having established the basic operating tenets and principles in brief introductions to each, Heehs then includes a number of extracts from the scriptures and literature.

Madhumita Bhattacharyya, The Telegraph (Kolkata)


In this smart anthology . . . each part takes us on a stimulating tour with an allure of further discovering uncharted alleys.

Romain Maitra, Sunday Statesman (Kolkata)


Very well presented. . . . A must for all libraries.

Dipankar Khanna, Deccan Herald (Bangalore)


Heehs includes selections and transcriptions of about 200 texts, both written and oral, from all over the South Asian subcontinent. The selections represent a great diversity of spiritual perspectives. . . . The introductions and the texts themselves combine to make this book useful for scholars as well as spiritual seekers drawn to Indian religious thought.

Stephen Joseph, Library Journal


Heehs’s Indian Religions provides a comprehensive and detailed map to allow readers to navigate the often difficult, often bewildering terrain of Indian religious literature for themselves.

Andrew McGarrity, Asian Studies Review


Many will find Indian Religions a useful teaching aid whose contents and introductory sections are clear, concise and eminently readable.

Nile Green, Contemporary South Asia


A lot of factors combine to make the book very rich in content and contributions. The richness includes the fact that Heehs, as its editor, is an authority on the subject that is eloquently treated in the publication. . . . Indian Religions is a very useful introduction to the history of religions in the southern part of Asia. Also, it should serve as a very important research tool for professors/researchers and students, who are very much interested in Eastern religions generally but, in particular, Indian religions, which form the bulk of this impressive publication.

Dorothy V. Smith, African and Asian Studies


Peter Heehs’ Historical Reader is another worthwhile attempt in its effort to encompass Indian religion as spiritual experience within the covers of a single book. . . . .  Works such as these succeed when they dispel narrow-mindedness and inform. Let us hope that this anthology does just that.

Julius Lipner, Times Higher Education


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